Like many fans of Stephen King's 1983 novel “Pet Sematary,” the author had a mixed reaction to the 1989 film version of the book:
“I think [star] Dale Midkiff is stiff in places. I think Denise Crosby comes across cold in places,” King told Cinefantastique magazine in 1991. “I don't feel that the couple that's at the center of the story has the kind of warmth that would set them off perfectly against the supernatural element that surrounds them. I like that contrast better. I think it does what horror movies are supposed to do. It's an outlaw genre. It's an outlaw picture. A lot of the reviews have suggested very strongly that people are offended by the picture, and that's exactly the effect that the horror movie seeks.”
Confession: I am probably even less a fan of the Mary Lambert-directed adaptation than King is. To me, the film suffers from an overwhelming cheese factor that waters down the hefty emotional component of the loaded central premise: a father so broken up over his young son's tragic death that he's willing to bury him in a cursed local pet graveyard with regenerative powers.
And yet for fans of the original novel there is hope for a more satisfying adaption of the story looming on the horizon, courtesy of director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (who helmed the shockingly excellent 2007 sequel “28 Weeks Later”) and screenwriter Jeff Buhler (“Midnight Meat Train”). In a recent interview with horror blog Dread Central, Buhler took a few minutes out to discuss the upcoming re-adaptation, during which the scribe echoed a lot of my sentiments in discussing their more humanistic approach to the story:
“This is pretty far from the 1980″s film, which I adore for certain things that are very intrinsic to that time period in terms of the genre, like a truck driver smoking a joint to a Ramones song. But when a little kid comes back with a scalpel and is like, ‘I want to play with you,” it kind of becomes Chucky. With this one, we really wanted to get into the emotional aspects of it. There”s still plenty of visceral horror that”s explored, but I”ve always felt that if you lean more into the characters and into their emotional lives, when the visceral shit hits the fan, it”s ten times more scary.”
I like the way this man thinks. Fingers crossed that the update goes into production by the end of the year, as Buhler indicates.